Jennifer Maggio is considered a leading authority on single parents and womens issues. She is an award-winning author and speaker who draws from her own experiences through abuse, homelessness, and teen pregnancy to inspire audiences everywhere. She is founder of The Life of a Single Mom Ministries and writes for dozens of publications. She has been featured with hundreds of media outlets, including The 700 Club, Daystar Television, Moody Radio, Focus on the Family, and many more. For more information, visit thelifeofasinglemom.com.
All of us, whether young or young at heart, married or single, mother or not, will encounter conflict in our lives. The way we handle conflict becomes either an amazing opportunity to give God glory in how it is resolved, or a thorn in our side that we struggle to get right.
Many of the hurts of my past resulted in a great deal of conflict in my life. And all of you have had events in your life, both negative and positive, that have shaped your ability to resolve conflict and more importantly, your willingness to do so.
Proverbs 11:2 says Pride leads to disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom.
I was once a poor girl from Mississippi who used government assistance just to makes ends meet. When I landed a job in Corporate America and became successful, I didn’t bother to guard my heart against pride. Humility wasn’t my first goal, if I’m being completely transparent with you. Conflict wasn’t viewed as an opportunity to give glory, but rather a welcomed opportunity for me to boost my own ego. So when I told someone off, or gossiped behind their back, or ranted for ridiculous amounts of time…. It made me feel better about me. It helped me to mask old wounds that had been left undealt with.
What are some of the things in our lives that cause conflict? There are many, but here are just a few:
All of us will face misunderstandings or exhaustion and many have dealt with insecurity, so, what do we do to resolve these conflicts well?
Issue grace. – Most of us would rather receive grace than issue it. It’s easier for us to see all the reasons why God should give us grace, because our heart is good and we’re good people and we didn’t mean to fail Him – than it is for us to see the good in others and just give them a break. Maybe they are completely unreasonable. And maybe you are completely right. But it’s so important for us to look at how we can maintain and mend relationships than how we can be right. (Ephesians 4:3 – Make every effort to keep yourselves united in Spirit, binding yourselves together in peace.)
Take your offense directly to the person. (See Matthew 18:15.) Girls, it is unfair to assume others in our lives know what we are hurt about, when we don’t talk to them about it. And it is even more unfair to discuss it with others when you haven’t discussed it with them. And we do both. Don’t gossip about it. Don’t fester about it. Take it to them in love. And when you take it to them, take it to them in hopes of resolution with a pure heart - not in hopes that you can convince them how right you are.
Speak life over the situation. The power of life and death are in the tongue. (Prov. 18:21) Most of us are church girls. We get it. We understand about keeping our tongue in line with God’s word. Yet, we struggle to do so. When we want to resolve conflict, we must speak honor over those we are in relationship with. If you think you can speak negatively about your girlfriend, your sister, your pastor, your boss, your Bible study leader, and NOT grow division in your heart, you are wrong. Wouldn’t our lives be so much better if we could just watch our mouths? Never make light of the king, even in your thoughts. And don’t make fun of the powerful, even in your own bedroom. For a little bird might deliver your message and tell them what you said. Ecc. 10:20
Battle your thoughts. Phil 4:8 says to fix our thoughts on whatever is true, honorable, right, pure, lovely, and admirable. You cannot keep playing in your mind over and over and over what they said, what they did, an expect resolution. You cannot keep negative thoughts from coming into your mind. But it is your choice what you do with them, when they get there.
Friends, we are all armor bearers of something. Whether it’s your spouse, a friendship, your pastor, your boss, a ministry you are passionate about, your kids --- you are championing the cause for something and someone. And as such, you must begin to see yourself as mightily carrying the armor for someone else in your life to complete their mission – just as there are those in your life bearing armor for you.
What’s at stake if we don’t battle well? Rest assured, the conflict will grow. It becomes bigger than it ever needed to be. It shapes us. We become bitter, anger, and offended and no one can stand to be around us, instead of humble and graceful and strong. And we will also be so distracted with the conflict that we don’t focus on fulfilling our purpose. How could we be busy about our Father’s business, when we’re telling anyone who will listen about our conflict?
Let’s decide today that we are going to problem solvers, not problem seekers. And when conflict does seek us out, we’ll be strong women of God who see it for what it is and determine in our hearts that we’ll overcome it with God’s help.
Jennifer Maggio is an author and speaker whose personal journey through abuse, death, single parenting, and homelessness has left many around the globe riveted. She is CEO and Founder of the Life of a Single Mom Ministries and has a passion to see the body of Christ living in complete freedom. For more information, visit www.thelifeofasinglemom.com.
Top Tips for Running Single Parent Program In Churches:
With 15 million single mothers in the United States today, raising approximately 25 million children, it is important for the body of Christ to understand the best practices to start, grow, or improve a single mom's program within church. There are several things to consider. Here are just a few:
Suggested meeting times for single moms ministries are always on the weekend (Friday night, Saturday, or Sunday night) and usually twice per month. More means your volunteers get worn out. Less means you may not get the same relationship-building. Wednesday night and Sunday morning groups will traditionally have less attendance.
Logistics. Always provide a meal, childcare, and start and end on time. Providing a meal meets a practical need for a mom who may be financially struggling. It further eliminates a barrier that would prevent her from regularly attending the group. Additionally, having a single mom's Bible study without having childcare is like having a potluck with no food! You simply cannot do it. Starting and ending on time is important for a few reasons. First, single moms are working two jobs, balancing homework and carpool, and simply exhausted. Honoring the start and end time may be important for her to continue to come regularly.
Recruit, train, and empower volunteers. They want to serve. NEVER TELL ANYONE NO in regards to volunteering. Volunteers are the backbone to most of our churches, communities, and ministries. We need them. Use them to the fullest. Make sure to diversify your volunteer base – race, age, etc. It helps promote diversity within your group. Give single moms something to do. It will keep them coming back out of obligation, at least, at first. It also helps to ease discomfort for a shy attendee.
Consider what you are teaching. 2 out of 3 single moms unchurched. Some of them aren’t in a place where they can emotionally or spiritually handle an in-depth teaching on Revelation. Now, before I get 100 emails indicating how important God's Word is, let me just say, "I agree. I 100% agree." However, when a single mom has been far off the path, maybe beat herself up emotionally, or has had a series of events that have left her traumatized, insecure, and unsure of God's love for her, it's important to consider the content of the single mom's ministry teaching. Keep it relevant and short. Single parents topics include: Parenting, Finances and Spiritual health. (Parenting Teens, Parenting through Difficulties, Money Management & Budgeting, Spiritual, Emotional, and Physical health)
Utilize social media. Be active. Be relevant. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, FB Groups & Pages, Pinterest, Texts, Email database
Have fun and be open to change. Switch it up! Be fun. You don’t have to cover 18 points in one meeting. Allow the Holy Spirit to be your guide. Do Scavenger Hunts. Do “field day” games. Just enjoy the ministry. You may be called to launch your program, but not lead it. Be prepared for those types of changes to.
This isn’t the time to share your story! Leaders are there to facilitate and listen and give Godly advice, when called upon. Don’t fall into the trap of talking about what you did, what happened to you, etc. It’s off-putting. These parents need to see Jesus not us! Our stories are used in bits & pieces to exemplify God’s faithfulness.
Relationship development comes before ministry. Get to know the parents. Overzealous teaching on everything a parent is doing wrong shuts them down. As the relationship develops, the parent becomes more open to hear from you. It is very hard to give advice, encouragement, and correction, if you’ve not taken the time to know who they are.
Be open to change. Maybe you’ve always had your single moms support group on a Sunday morning. Maybe that was convenient for you or for your church, as they were already hosting childcare at that time. Consider changing things up. Consider moving dates, times, days. Consider changing the length of your meeting, the teachers, the volunteers. Add something new. Growing ministries are the ones that keep things fresh and new. You don’t have to do things “the way you’ve always done them.” Allow God to give you big vision and fresh ideas. His spirit changes lives. Always be open to change.
Plan a single parent event. Events create excitement. They reach the lost. They get the backslidden back in the doors. Events can be as varied as your imagination will allow. Events can evolve around a holiday or a season of your church. They can be small or large, local, regional, or national. Get the word out. Create an I-have-to-be-there attitude. Do it well! Plan for a place to disciple them afterwards. Events come after launch of event. Christmas parties, Easter outreaches, Night of Praise, Breakfast, Conferences, etc. Be creative. But you MUST have somewhere to plug them in before you have the event.
Jennifer Maggio is a national author and speaker, mom to three, wife of Jeff, and CEO/Founder of The Life of a Single Mom Ministries. The Life of a Single Mom Ministries serves over 71,000 single mothers each year and has worked with over 1500 churches to start, improve, or grow their single mom's ministry. Visit www.thelifeofasinglemom.com for more information.
How did I wind up here? What if I can’t do this whole parenting thing right? What about my future? The future of my children? How can I do this alone? These are just a few of the questions that single moms may ask themselves. It’s in the midst of these questions that finding courage seems impossible. In fact, fear is much easier to find, isn’t it?
Fear has a way of crippling us – taking life from us. It is a gradual suffocation of courage that we normally hide well. We mask. We smile. And yet, behind closed doors, we cry and tremble and worry. Fear immobilizes, subtracts, withers, crushes, and shatters. It grips our soul and snatches every dream. What once was the joy of the Lord somehow becomes replaced with anger and hopelessness. Fear encourages us to give up and accept the misery of existence versus the excitement of a God-led pursuit. And fear, often, rears its ugly head in the midst of transition.
Many Christians are struggling with fear and allowing it to take our voice and strangle us – secretly and slowly. It is especially true of single mothers who likely never expected to be where you are, regardless of the journey. But there is good news for us today. We can overcome fear and find courage.
In order to battle well, we have to be fearless. We have to be filled with courage. To parent those precious babies, to be the best employee you can be, to manage your money well, or to strengthen valuable friendships (and more) we must be free of fear. Our Father in Heaven paid for us to have an abundant life, free from fear and worry and anxiety. There are three things that we can do that will allows us to master fear and move into the freedom Christ paid for us to have with great courage.
Acknowledge what fear is. If fear didn’t come from the Lord, then who gave it to us? As Christians, we must understand that fear was given to us by Satan as a mere tactic to keep us distracted and off course for the plans the Lord has for us. We must understand it for what is, then realize we have the authority to dispel fear with the power of Christ’s shed blood.
For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and sound mind. 1 Timothy 1:7
Seek God until he takes away our fears. Courage comes from God. Keep pursuing freedom from fear, even when everything around you seems scary and hopeless and endless. Keep pressing in for courage during prayer. Keep asking God to deliver you from the fear that is being forced upon you.
Keep on asking and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking and you will find. Keep on knocking and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives. Everyone who seeks, finds. And to everyone who knocks, the door will open. Matthew 7:7-8
Speak truth. Speak truth over your fear, even when you don’t feel like, even when it seems impossible, and even when it’s the hardest thing you’ve ever done. When Moses died, I am sure that Joshua was afraid of what God was now calling him to do in the book of Joshua. I am sure he had no idea of how he would lead the Israelites. He never expected to be in that situation. Do you find yourself in an unexpected situation today? Are you fearful of your future? Your kids choices? Your finances? Your singleness? God’s word promises you victory, authority, and strength.
No one will be able to stand against you as long as you live. For I will be with you as I was with Moses. I will not fail you or abandon you. Joshua 1:5
Take a step forward. Make the decision today to overcome your fears. It may not happen overnight, but resolve it today. Let a friend know about the struggle for accountability. Choose boldness. Choose courage. Choose life, today.
Don’t clamor in a corner like one with no hope. You are a daughter of the King of Kings. You are more than a conqueror in Christ. That challenge, that thing you are facing, is not bigger than your God. He will never leave you. When fear comes for you, don’t retreat and allow it to strangle you. Get ready for war. Wage war against the evil one who has attempted to lie to you and steal the joy God has paid for you to have. Take authority and stand against it.
Points to Ponder:
What is your number one fear today?
How much time each day do you think you spend thinking about that fear? How much does that equate to in a year?
What are some practical ways you can divert your attention from that fear and focus on something positive instead?
List 4 truths from the Bible that explain who God says you are. What does he say about your future? What Scriptures can you lean on during your time of fear?
Write a prayer that explains to God what you are afraid of and why. Ask him to take away that fear.
Jennifer Maggio is a national author and speaker, mom to three, wife of Jeff, and CEO/Founder of The Life of a Single Mom Ministries. She is chauffeur, chief dishwasher, carpool queen, and duct tape aficionado. But more importantly, she is passionate about teaching women how to find complete freedom in Christ. For more information, visit www.jennifermaggio.com.
Photo courtesy: Unsplash.com